Carlo Ancelotti outlined Bayern’s goal very clearly in Bayern Munich’s press conference on Friday. “We have to end this part of the season with three wins,” he said.
It is a good time to tackle that challenge as Bayern are coming off an encouraging 1-0 performance in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid. Their first of these three opponents, Wolfsburg, are also in a terrible position, not just in the table but also in their development as a club.
Bayern’s last home match against Wolfsburg went extremely well. They halted the progress of the 2015 German Cup winners with a 5-1 demoralizing result thanks to a world record performance second half from Robert Lewandowski. Here are some things to watch for when Bayern host Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Lewandowski and his Wolfsburg-smashing ways
By Oktoberfest 2015, most probably thought they had seen everything Lewandowski had to offer. Then he came on at halftime of Bayern’s game against Wolfsburg and smashed in five goals in nine minutes. That game changed everyone’s expectations of what Lewandowski’s ceiling as a footballer could be. Now he gets another crack Wolfsburg, and considering their defensive collapse last week against Hertha Berlin – they conceded two leads and wound up losing 3-2 – a couple of goals is definitely plausible.
The Structure of Bayern’s defense
Bayern’s depth in defense is rather shallow at the moment. Mats Hummels is out with a stomach bug and Jerome Boateng is finally back in training after missing Bayern’s last three games. David Alaba played in central defense, but he has started four of Bayern’s last five games. Ancelotti might have to get creative, maybe using Joshua Kimmich in the middle once more or giving Holger Badstuber his first Bundesliga start of the season.
Mario Gomez’s return to Munich
With oodles of striker depth, Bayern elected to sell off Mario Gomez in the summer of 2013. Now the beloved former Bayern striker will roam the penalty area of Allianz Arena for the first time since his departure. He hasn’t been the goal poacher that he once was – he has scored just four goals in 13 games with Wolfsburg. But he showed with the German national team in the summer that he still has life left in his footballing legs.
Philipp Lahm’s return to defense
Though he has played Lahm in midfield in recent matches, Ancelotti confirmed that his captain will be back in defense on Saturday. This tactic may come simply out of necessity for, as previously mentioned, Bayern is a man or two short in defense. Though his passing left a little to be desired, Lahm has performed well in midfield against Mainz last week. Depending on his performance on Saturday, he may or may not prove that midfield is where the last few moments of career lies.
Thomas Müller’s long-awaited first goal
He has struggled with his scoring touch this season, but he might have his chance against Wolfsburg. He had arguably his best Bundesliga performance of the season last week when Bayern beat Mainz 3-1. Ancelotti called him a striker in his press conference on Friday, a sign he may seem more time in the middle rather than on the wing. A return to his rightful middle position may also bring about a return of his scoring ways.